Ex-Googlers thoughts on working in large company like Google .

“The nature of a large company like Google is such that they reward consistent, focused performance in one area. This sounds good on the surface, but if you’re a hacker at heart like me, it’s really the death knell for your career. It means that staking out a territory and defending it is far more important than doing what it takes to get a project to its goal. It means that working on Search, APIs, UI, performance, scalability and getting each one of those pieces across the line by any means necessary is actually bad for your career.

Engineers who simply staked out one component in the codebase, and rejected patches so they could maintain complete control over design and implementation details had much greater rewards”

Goodbye to google

“If you pitch an idea or a project to Larry and Sergey, their feedback is quite easy to anticipate. They’ll tell you you have to solve the problem in a more generic way. I tried to sell them on data communities, a place where like minded people could collaborate on structured data around topics they’re interested in. The feedback was predictable: why restrict yourself to communities? And why to structured data? Come up with something that solves everything!

The problem with this for an individual engineer like me is that you can’t work with a small team on a medium sized idea, get users and expand from there anymore. You either have to pitch something as the third coming of Steve or your idea will be relegated to being a feature of something else.

Google’s mode of operation used to be best characterised as strictly opportunistic. There were certain principles and leading ideas, but any project that met those and where Google thought it could do better than what was out there, would be taken on.

No longer. Google now has strategies. Once you offer an online spreadsheet and an online word processor, strategy demands that you also offer an online solution for presentations, even if it isn’t actually much better. And you start seeing presentations with product road maps and competitive landscapes and unique selling points.

No doubt this approach suits a bigger company better. But the engineer in me wants to go back to that whiteboard; hire smart people that exploit new opportunities that become available as technology develops to build new products and services, which in turn leads to user happiness. Having a plan easily gets in the way of doing the right thing there.”

Douwe Osinga

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